Taking the Wheel Back as Cancer Loosens Its Grip

Scrolling through the men’s prostate cancer page on Facebook today, I realized that cancer can take a back seat.

Those who have followed my musings through the past three years will know I have written, from many angles, about the gripping fear that cancer can impart on our lives. Fear of not responding to treatment and what that means… fear of the unknown… fear of recurrence… even fear of coming off of treatment. It’s real. Sometimes living with the “C” word can be crippling. It can bring us to our knees and drop us into emotional valleys.

Cancer is now relegated to the back seat and I now feel I have control of the wheel.

We all have our ways of dealing with it. Some of us learn how to dance with it, hoping to stay the leading partner. Others find ways to lock it away. Some embrace it, looking for the silver linings. Whatever it takes. Whatever mix. As long as it works.

Today, while scrolling down the private prostate cancer men’s page on Facebook, I counted a growing number of new members who were pleased to have found and been admitted to the group. But, one entry stood out and made me think. It read: “So this is my last post here. I am dropping the group. Just nothing here for me at this time…”

Of course, many members were sad to see this post and to think they were losing one of their brothers. So much had been shared between him and the others. Bonds had definitely formed through the giving of mutual support. I posted a quick “Stay well…” in encouragement.

And then I smiled to myself. I believe this brother was telling us that cancer was loosening its grip on him.

I understand that. In some ways it’s also happening to me. Instead of sitting in the driver’s seat, cancer is now relegated to the backseat, only occasionally uttering demands and warnings as back seat drivers are wont to do. I now have my hands back on the wheel as my favorite phrase plays over and over in mind mind… I have cancer… it doesn’t have me. More and more, I wonder if the first three words are even true.

Of course, there are still questions… Will and when will my disease recur? How aggressive might it be if it does? I still have more than two years to go before I reach that magic five year survival milestone.

Still, I am more at peace than ever with my once frightening friend. Each day I drive on the road of recovery, the more I feel in control…. the more I feel like a survivor.

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10 Responses to “Taking the Wheel Back as Cancer Loosens Its Grip”

  1. So encouraging to see you put these feelings to paper. In the very same way…someday my husband and me dance, laugh and indeed LIVE our life. Other days we take turns baring the weight of what having “cancer” has done to us. Thank you for reminding me, that you also have cancer…but indeed, it does not HAVE. You. God Bless, Kim

  2. As a recent Gleason 9 cancer survivor, I love to hear your wisdom and your points of view.

    I look forward to the day that I too can see Cancer fading in the rear view mirror of life.

    best regards,
    jack kean

  3. Rusty Dennison Reply May 3, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Dan—Thank you once again for a thoughtful post. I really appreciated your framing of the man taking a break from the cancer Facebook, as a positive thing. As time passes I find myself wanting to take a step back from my immersion in PCa and give myself permission to not think about it every day. Its not denial but as you say, my way of loosening the grip of cancer from the dominant force in my life. I always feel almost superstitiously cautious about this though, with a gnawing feeling that I’m “getting cocky”, “in denial”, or “challenging the gods”. Thanks for normalizing this a bit by your post.

  4. I like the way you think. Cancer has also moved to my backseat. I know sometimes now I can think: “don’t make me stop this car!” If it tries to act up a little in the mostly small corner of my mind. Thanks.

  5. I am seven years a Gleason 9 survivor. Surgery, radiation were good for a few years. Then it came back, started hormone therapy which worked for a while. It came back and tried Provenge therapy. It worked for a while so next started Docetaxel. Worked for a while, then it came back in my lymph nodes, so I am now doing Taxotere chemotherapy.

    This hasn’t finished my silver bullets for treatment, so I am still optimistic for future treatments. My bones are still clear. This is a long road, I am looking forward to many more years of life.

  6. …. but let’s not forget, it is NOT only about ‘me! there is plenty of room to continue to give back and make the path easier for those starting the journey – and those finding bigger and smaller hurdles along the way.

    Dan is a fine role model.

  7. Dan-Thanks for your good words of wisdom.I don,t dwell on my cancer,but try & enjoy each day.I saw an article recently where a gal said”worry is like paying interest on a debt you don’t even owe yet.” Thanks again,Mike Kilday

  8. Hi Dan
    Is it really 3 years now? time has passed really quickly, I remember you starting this post and was fortunate enough to post my experiences in the earl days. From OZ.
    I will say now that after almost 7 years now that we can survive if we change our life style, keep monitoring our progress, keep fit and healthy we can have a positive out come.
    A recent PSA showed that I am still in the PSA range of 0.04, so no further rise in PSA, how great is that even though I still live with incontinence ( a small price overall) ED at 66 still is hard to live with at times but you know we do eventually learn to live with it,
    Great to hear that you are still positive and helping men along our journey’s.
    To the forum, life ain’t easy but there is a light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to.
    Dan from OZ

  9. Dan, I am nearing the 2nd year of ADT and am wondering whether to stop the treatment or continue for another year. I still have zero for PSA…do you plan on continuing your trt past the 2 years, and what factors does one consider in making that decision. I had a gleason (9)higher than my psa and 8wks of radiation after radical surgery. I enjoy your insightful information. Thanks